Building the perfect skincare routine is an investment. But there can be frustrating moments when you purchase a skincare product that either does little for your skin or even makes things worse, causing heartache worse than a breakup (whyyy). That’s why we’ve put together a foolproof guideline to help you consciously consume. Here are some tips on how to tell if your product is working for you.

Step 1: Pause

So you’re scrolling through your socials as usual and then BAM! There’s a new product appearing in a brilliantly edited ad with all the faces of your favorite influencers. They’re claiming this product helps them with their own skincare concerns and your interest is piqued. The sustainable packaging looks enticing; the small slo-mo shots of application seem alluring; and it’s even vegan, cruelty-friendly, and fragrance-free! It seems to hit all the checkboxes that you’ve been looking for! And before you know it, you’re already reaching to punch in your credit card info for yet another transaction. 

We’re all guilty of doing this. But let’s back up for a second! When the urge hits, first take a deep breath. Inhale…exhale. 

Now, take a step back. Before you get overly excited, you’re going to want to acknowledge your existing skincare products. After all, you’re planning to adopt a new member into the ever-growing family; the least you can do is make sure you find out if it’s a good fit for you. 

Take a look at your products and ask yourself the following questions: Do you have hydrating products in your routine? Do you already have products containing chemical or physical exfoliants? What ingredients do you have more of? What new concerns have you noticed that you want to address? Are your current products helping your skin feel and look its very best?

You get the idea. But the more you consider, the more you’re in control of your spending. And by the way, if you answered yes to that last question, you can hold off on purchasing a new product. (Unless you really want to experiment! Just sayin’.)

Step 2: Do a background check

Now comes the step where you do some scrutinizing. Do some research by reading reviews from several different sources (both positive and negative — to get a better picture). Keep in mind that the reviews are all anecdotal and should only be taken with a grain of salt to further your research. Look at the official product description and the key ingredients they choose to highlight. Then go to the ingredients list and identify those key ingredients in the actual list. Are they located as part of the first five ingredients in the list? If so, the product contains high concentrations of these key ingredients, so you’re most likely getting your money’s worth. 

However, it’s important to note: certain key ingredients actually require low percentages within the formulation. So it’s worth remembering that higher concentrations don’t exactly mean better effects for your skin!  Some ingredient examples include retinol, vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid/ Ascorbic Acid), and salicylic acid

Step 3: Make a (tiny) purchase or ask for a sample

Now that you’re slightly more confident in your research and the product actually looks promising, you can either do two things: ask for a sample or purchase a travel size if possible. This way you can test it out without the need to shell out your hard-earned money over a product that might not work well with your skin. If it’s not possible for you to obtain a sample or a travel-size bottle, check with the retailer’s refund and return policies. 

If you’re at a physical store, this is also a good time to give the product a little test on the back of your hand. Note the way the product dispenses, the scent (even if it’s marketed as fragrance-free), the sensation as you apply, and the finish. The purpose of this is to see if the skincare product feels good applying on. The more technical stuff happens in the next step.

Step 4: Swatch (on a patch)

Congrats on getting your hands on the (mini) product! 

Here comes the important part. Before you apply the product straight up to your face, you want to make sure it doesn’t cause any adverse reactions. Because the last thing you want is a compromised skin barrier, irritated skin or an allergic reaction. 

Apply a small amount of the product on a clean patch of skin. Depending on your preference, apply it on the inside of your wrist or the side of your neck. After applying, cover the area with a bandage and wait 24 hours to monitor any reactions. If you find your skin erupting in breakouts or experiencing prolonged redness, that’s your sign to stop using the product and let it go. It wasn’t meant to be! 

But if your skin seems normal after the 24 hours, you’re good to go! Hooray!

Alternatively, you can also do a patch test on the inside of your elbow. Apply the bandage and wait 24 hours. Rinse off the product and apply again. You can repeat this process for seven days to get a better understanding of how your skin reacts. Personally, I feel like this is a bit too much, but if you want to be extremely careful, this method might be a good idea.

There’s also a chance you might notice some slight redness or tingling due to the ingredients, but if it goes away after a short while, just know that this is perfectly normal.

Step 5: Apply and be patient

Now that you’re given the all-clear and everything’s good in the (skincare) world, you are free to incorporate the product to your existing routine! As a reminder, if you’re incorporating a product containing chemical exfoliants, we recommend starting off once or twice a week and slowly building up to daily use if the product or your skin allows it. It’s also good to know that when it comes to skincare concerns, it will take time and consistent use in order to see results. As long as your skin is reacting well, continue your routine as usual and in a few months, you should reap the benefits. 

Keeping those steps in mind, here are a few products to check out!

Products We Love

For more tips and recs, check out the full video below:

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